As Kenya is stricken with a worsening food crisis, ordinary people, living on just a few dollars a day, are enduring a rapid decline in living standards, writes Peter Njoroge, a 25-year-old Commonwealth Correspondent.
What defines a great nation in this modern era? Is it advancement in economics to be in a position to cater to the plight of the citizens?
Or is it great military development to inspire fear in the hearts of enemies and impress allies?
What about great strides in human right respect and the promotion and protection of rights and freedoms of all rich and poor? Can we even equate greatness with such ambiguous terms as per capita income, overall GDP, global influence among many others?
My answer is a resounding NO. For greatness must be traced to a general care for the plight of all human beings, local and international. Care which should be unconditional, motivated only by the pursuit for genuine brotherhood and devoid of hypocrisy or vested interests.
Do I believe that my country, Kenya, is a great nation? Again the answer is a strong NO. Kenya is a weakling surrounded by many other weaklings in what is supposed to be one of the most developed parts of Africa. Why should a citizen make such a strong vote of no confidence in a country he loves and would protect at any cost? Why such an immense lack of faith in a country which feeds him, cares for him and ensures that he has opportunities for growth and survival?
Because those who are in charge of caring for her, Mother Kenya, are incompetent, barbaric, hypocrites and gluttonous slobs. They do good, or appear to do good, yet promote veiled segregation in the implementation of programs and the sharing of what is widely known as “the national cake”. They play to the tune of the elite and try their best to make the life of these groups easy, prosperous and very comfortable. Yet the majority poor are burned by the side effects of this total disregard for the welfare of the majority poor.
It is no secret that majority of Kenyan’s are poor. What most do not know, or prefer not to acknowledge, is that even the ones presumed not to be poor are, if truth be told, poor.
Most organizations have fallaciously decided to use the below one dollar method as the parameter for which poverty is measured. In their limited evaluation, they would have us believe that people who earn over this cap are well off. There can be nothing more which is far from the truth as this particular perception.
In Kenya, $1 is equivalent to a measly 89 SH. This amount cannot buy a 2kg flour of maize flour, or any flour for that matter. Even if a person was to earn double this amount, the new amount, 178Sh, would not be able to buy this flour and a half KG of cooking fat.
So tell me, dear reader, how is the $2 income better than the below 1$ income?Aren’t the two people in the same crisis, a crisis of hunger, stress and misery? They say that over 50% of Kenyan’s live below less than a dollar a day. True, yet this paragraph paints an even more grim picture of the overall situation.
Having established that a majority of Kenyans who live above this minimum are just as poor, it goes to show that, in my humble estimation, that close to 85% of Kenyan’s are absolutely poor. What most know, and prefer to bury their heads in the sand about, is that even those earning $20 per day are just as miserable being cognizant of the rapid escalation in the standards of living.
Millions of Kenyans are facing starvation and hunger. It has become a national disaster even if the government, for purposes of pride and ignorance, refuses to accept so. Recent pictures on television and in newspapers have conveyed the plight of such people, people so hungry and emancipated that even words are too much effort to utter.
The only strength they have left is to point, with their pitiful and bony fingers, to their painful stomachs in the hope that someone will grant them mercy and offer them food. Yet such help seems too far away and every day the sun sets, hope sets with it.
Hope that the government will hear their cries and come to their aid. Hope that NGO’s will see their tears, and come to their aid. Hope that other Kenyans will remember their suffering and come to their aid. But such help might come a little too late.
The country lacks the most vital food which makes survival possible and aid adequate to save lives. This ladies and gentleman, is maize. A country that once exported the commodity has ran out of it. There are several reasons for this but the main one, without doubt, is government failure. And the people know it, if recent demonstrations are anything to go by. All they want is flour, for in Kenya, without it only death can follow.
The current situation is worrying, depressing even. It is the first time, in my humble existence, the price of maize flour surpassed that of wheat flour. Yet even wheat appears to be heading in the same worrying direction, with reports that most of the wheat fields have dried up due to drought.
Who will save us, my dear people, from the gloom of an uncertain future? This government, which invests only in tear gas and arms of war to bear down on its own people? No, we will not die easily. We will not give up either, for we have a right to food and water.
As the country becomes a tear gas nation, we will soldier on, fight on, clamor on, demand on, and struggle on till the very end. For we are Kenyans, and tear gas cannot take way the heritage of our freedom, wrenched from the colonists with blood and brotherhood.
We will eat that tear gas if need be, we will wash with it, drink it, until the government has no option but to listen to our cries. If we must, we will use it to build the foundation for a better future, where hunger will be just a story told to stubborn stories by mothers in a bid to keep the past, archived.
For to give up, is to loose the patriotism which unites us, to lay aside the independence which was granted us, not for a while, but to eternity.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/
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